For many of us, summer is the most awaited time of the year.  We know that everyone is anxious to just relax and enjoy those hot summer days by going to a friend’s pool, the beach, hiking outdoors, or anything that consists of outdoor activities! 

Well as fun as summer can be, it’s still the season where we have to be the most alert when it comes to our vaginal health because of how warm and humid the weather is. Your vagina is much more susceptible during the hot summer months to harmful bacteria overgrowth and infections. We see a spike in online searches related to things like “sweaty vagina,” “chaffing vagina,” and “vaginal infections.”

The biggest culprit? Moisture! Whether it’s from sweating or swimming, moisture has a tremendous impact on our vaginal pH.  Just to put things in perspective, our natural sweat has a pH of around 7, while the vagina’s pH should be between the range of 3.8 to 4.5. 

So since this climate is ideal for bacteria and yeast to thrive in, we’ve asked our medical advisor, Dr. Jessica Shepherd, to compile a list of ways to prevent vaginal infections so you can maintain a happy and healthy vagina all summer-long. 

Here are her top 7 tips to help keep your vagina and surrounding areas intact, all summer long:

Switch to breathable cotton undies (or go commando)

Wear breathable cotton underwear to avoid vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections.

Wearing tight underwear throughout the day can make your vagina and vulva region more susceptible to yeast and bacteria. This is because we tend to sweat more in this area during the summer, due to tighter clothing, and of course the summer heat. 

Unfortunately, sweat and moisture contribute to an ideal state for vaginal infections to thrive in.  They increase your chances of contracting vaginal Yeast Infections, which we know can be frustrating and troublesome. However, night time might help your vagina revive and rejuvenate itself. How? Sleeping commando is one way, or at the very least not wearing any underwear. This can give your vagina some time off to cool down, air out and breathe.

Another suggestion is switching to cotton underwear, as recommended by OB/GYN, Dr. Shepherd. “Cotton is light, breezy, and skin-friendly. Wearing cotton underwear allows your vagina to ventilate and breathe. Unlike underwear made of synthetic material or silk, cotton doesn’t trap moisture or heat in it.”

Trapped heat or moisture for long periods of time could lead to vaginal infections, especially vaginal Yeast Infections and Bacterial Vaginosis. Another advantage of wearing cotton is that it is hypoallergenic. It reduces irritation and the risk of allergies. (4) To learn more about the symptoms of a Yeast Infection or Bacterial Vaginosis check out our Ultimate Guide for BV. 

Try to not have sex in pools, hot tubs, or any body of water

Sexual activity in pools and hot tubs may sound exciting but it might also lead to some vaginal problems this summer. If you’re prone to Urinary Tract Infections, Bacterial Vaginosis, or Yeast Infections, then this is a major red flag.

You might think that water can naturally lubricate your vagina when you’re having sex underwater. Wouldn’t that be nice?  That’s not exactly how it works though. 

“When you have sex under water, water that enters your vagina washes away natural lubrication and vaginal secretions with it. This leaves your vagina dry, and with each thrust, your vaginal lining runs the risk of getting tiny tears” explains Dr. Shepherd.

What’s worse is that chemicals like chlorine can further irritate the skin, damaging the pH balance and microflora of your vagina. Therefore, sexual activity in pools and hot tubs may sound exciting but it might also lead to some vaginal problems this summer. If you’re prone to Urinary Tract Infections, Bacterial Vaginosis, or Yeast Infections, then this is a major red flag. 

Don’t wax or trim the day of a beach/pool day

Don't wax or trim your vulva or bikini line the day of a beach/pool day.

We understand the urge to trim or wax on those days that are so gorgeous out, and you want to take advantage of the pool, beach, etc.. However, try to plan out your shaving/ waxing the day before to prevent any ingrown hairs or any irritation from sweat, dirt, and sunscreen that could clog your pores. 

If you have to shave that day, then we recommend shaving just your bikini line and moisturizing afterward, but leave the vulva intact.  Also, be sure to use grooming products that won’t irritate your skin or cause you to chafe.

Stay away from chemical-containing products

Woman reading the ingredients of a feminine hygiene product for vaginal health.

We know there’s a wide range of feminine care and hygiene products such as wipes, scented tampons, vaginal washes, lotions, the list goes on. And while these might all seem appealing, don’t be fooled by the marketing and advertising gimmicks. 

Products that are scented or have preservatives and colorants in them are not good for your vaginal hygiene. Let us repeat that in another way, “vaginal products with chemicals are NOT good for your vagina.” 

Not only can chemical-containing products lead to allergic rashes and irritation of the vaginal skin, but they can also disrupt the vaginal pH balance, leading to the removal of good bacteria in the vagina. Changes in vaginal pH or microbial content then leads to vaginal infections such as BV and Yeast Infections. 

So just because it’s the summer and you think you might need to do some extra cleaning, all you have to do is wash with clean water thoroughly and practice good hygiene. That’s enough for you to keep your vagina and surrounding areas healthy and clean. (1)

Include Probiotics into your summer routine and stay consistent 

Happy V Prebiotic+Probiotic. Woman holding 2 capsules of Happy V's probiotic. Happy V's Prebiotic +Probiotic helps eliminate bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, vaginal odor, vaginal discharge, and balance pH in the vagina.

You’ve probably heard how important probiotics are for gut health, but they’re also equally as important in maintaining the vagina’s pH. An extensive amount of research has been conducted around probiotics and their impact in preventing and minimizing  the symptoms of BV and Yeast Infections. 

Probiotics help increase lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide in the vagina, which are the defense mechanisms that your vagina needs in order to fight off harmful bacteria, pathogens, and bacteriocins. 

Since you may be more prone to vaginal pH imbalances during the summer, adding in probiotics to your routine and staying consistent will help keep you healthy and fresh all season long. And by staying consistent, meaning taking probiotics that are properly dosed, every single day.  

Avoid sitting in water for too long

Woman swimming in the pool during the summer time. Staying in the pool for too long is not good for vaginal health and can contribute to vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections.

Yes, we know… this is a tough one over the summer, since it’s the best time to go out for a nice cool swim in a pool, lake, beach, etc.. So we’re not saying don’t go for the swim, we’re just saying be cautious as to how long you’re sitting in the water. Staying submerged for a lengthy amount of time could expose you to unwanted bacteria and harmful chemicals.

Chlorine, for example, is a water treatment used to kill harmful bacteria typically found in pool and hot tub water. However, it might also bring harm to the good bacteria naturally found in your vagina. This makes your vagina prone to vaginal infections if you spend a lot of time in pools and other chlorine-treated tubs. Moreover, these chemicals also act as irritants to your vaginal mucosa.

Dr. Shepherd explains, “the combination of hot/warm weather, humidity, and chemicals like chlorine might disrupt your vaginal microflora.”

What you can do is make sure that you’re not sitting in the water for too long. Rinse your vagina immediately with clean water, and change your clothes soon after going for a swim. 

Change out of wet clothes 

Woman in damp gym clothes. Change out of damp clothes in order to prevent vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.

Whether it’s a wet bikini or damp gym clothes after long hikes, bike rides, or working out, please be sure to change out of them. There are really two critical reasons for this; 

  1. First, excessive sweating and staying in wet clothes for an allotted time keeps the groin area around the vagina damp and humid. This makes it a favorable environment for bad bacteria and yeast to grow – exactly what we don’t want! Women have high concentrations of apocrine glands which are sweat glands around the groin area. 

Excessive sweat around the groin/vulva area, also known as “crotch sweat,” creates a distinct odor and can also cause itching. While this all sounds very uncomfortable, the worst part is it can also result in vaginal infections, like Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), Yeast Infections and UTIs.

  1. Second, the friction from wet undergarments might synergize with chemicals in water, like chlorine. If this were to occur, it could also disrupt the delicate balance of your vaginal pH.

And there you have it. Although Urinary Tract Infections, Bacterial Vaginosis, and Yeast Infections are quite common, they’re even more common during the summer months. Fortunately, you can follow this list to prevent vaginal infections or irritation and to keep your vagina healthy and happy this summer. And to be on the extra-safe side, make sure to have your cotton underwear, probiotics, and cranberry pills on hand and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. 

Glossary

Vaginal Mucosa – Membrane that forms the inner lining of your vagina.

Vaginal Microflora – Totality of microorganisms residing in your vagina.

Works Cited

  1. Nicole W. (2014). A question for women’s health: chemicals in feminine hygiene products and personal lubricants. Environmental health perspectives, 122(3), A70–A75. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.122-A70
  2. Cottrell, B. H. (2003). Vaginal douching. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 32(1), 12-18.
  3. Martino, J. L., & Vermund, S. H. (2002). Vaginal douching: evidence for risks or benefits to women’s health. Epidemiologic reviews, 24(2), 109-124.
  4. Sumarah, S., & Widyasih, H. (2017). Effect of Vaginal Hygiene Module to Attitudes and Behavior of Pathological Vaginal Discharge Prevention Among Female Adolescents in Slemanregency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Journal of family & reproductive health, 11(2), 104–109.
  5. Chen Y, Bruning E, Rubino J, Eder SE. Role of female intimate hygiene in vulvovaginal health: Global hygiene practices and product usage. Women’s Health (Lond). 2017;13(3):58-67. doi:10.1177/1745505717731011